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The Montreal screw job 20 years on.

  • 09-11-2017 2:33pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 39,437 ✭✭✭✭


    Today the 9th of November 2017 marks the twentieth anniversary of the most famous and polarising moment in wrestling history. The event is the main event of the 1997 Survivor series between the WWF champion Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels.

    The backstory is Bret hart had signed with WCW after Vince McMahon had broken a 20 year contract due to WWF being in "dire financial peril" which the meant that Bret had to drop the title before he left for WCW. Bret didn't want to lose to Shawn in Canada and Shawn had also told Bret he wouldn't put him over like Bret said he would do for Shawn.

    The whole event is covered by the excellent "Wrestling with shadows" which was a documentary on Bret Hart which captures the events of that night on film.

    There are differing accounts of who was or wasn't in on the screw job and when they were told. Also the theory it was all a work is one that seems to have persisted till this day.

    I don't remember if I saw it live(I was 12 so doubtful) but I know I saw it at some point soon after. I was probably like most who felt that how dare Vince do that to Bret. But as the years have gone by, I've come around to Vince's side of the argument more. He was the boss and if your boss gives you a reasonable request then it's expected you'd do it.

    I get that Shawn Michaels was a pain in the ass to work with at this time in his career, but Bret was leaving and he couldn't take the belt with him. I think "Bret screwed Bret" as he put Vince in a position of Vince having to ensure Bret wasn't the champion by December 1st(which was when Bret was meant to start in WCW). Vince couldn't have his belt go to WCW like Madusa had done with the women's championship, even though Eric Bischoff claims he wouldn't have done it.

    Anyway what are people's opinions and/or recollections of that night twenty years ago ?


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 60,274 ✭✭✭✭Agent Coulson


    The greatest work of all time?



    Might stick on Wrestling with Shadows tonight.


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,301 ✭✭✭✭gerrybbadd


    I never subscribed to the Bret screwed Bret line.

    Bret gave Vince several options to losing the title. He even asked to hand it over, relinquish it, but Vince would have none of that. The story that he might take the title to WCW was also more bullcrap from Vince. Let's remember here, Bret never wanted to go to WCW, he was pushed out, when Vince couldn't honour his 20 year contract (which was also crap, when you consider what was paid to Mike Tyson at Mania a few months after that).

    I know the line about Time Honoured Tradition gets used a fair bit too. There is a tradition. But Bret was right to refuse to lose to Shawn. Earlier in the year, Bret tried to smooth things over with Shawn, and told him he would be happy to put him over. Shawn said fair enough, but he wouldn't be happy to do the same thing for Bret. What's a man to do in that situation? Shawn Michaels at this time was a major príck (and some debate he still is, despite his holier than thou shtick).

    It's amazing to think what may have been possible if Bret never left the WWF. It could be reasonable to assume that Owen would still be alive today. There's no way Bret would let him be talked into doing that Stunt. Perhaps Davey Boy may also be alive - he wouldn't have followed Bret to WCW, getting injured on the Warrior's trap door, and all the issues that arose from that, hurrying along his demise.

    However, it could also be argued that we would not have had the Attitude Era, or at least how it was, if Bret had stuck about, and had Vince's ear

    20 years though, WOW. I remember watching that live, loving the brawl at the start, and then not having a clue what was happening. I had no idea Bret was on the way out (pre internet days for me).


  • Registered Users Posts: 45,535 ✭✭✭✭Mr.Nice Guy


    Bret really didn't do anything wrong. Vince McMahon has done a good job over the years spinning the yarn about how he had to get the title off Bret ASAP, almost as if Bret was heading to WCW the very next night. In reality Bret's contract with WWE didn't expire until the end of November so there was ample time to get the belt off Bret. And legally Bret couldn't go to WCW with the title because it had been established in law that the belt was the intellectual property of the company. WCW had already gotten into a lot of trouble over the stunt where Madusa threw the Women's Title in the trash and weren't going to exacerbate the legal situation by having Bret show up with the WWF Title.

    The "time honoured tradition" line from Vince is more BS. As if Vince cared about tradition given that he was the one who exposed to the world that the business was a work! Not to mention the guy he was giving his title to after Bret was the same one who had refused to do the time honoured tradition by "losing his smile" and forefeiting the title.

    The only real criticism you can say of Bret is that he was too invested in being the Canadian superhero and he took it too seriously. But you have to remember too that part of the reason Vince gave the go ahead to do the screwjob in Montreal was to try to hurt Bret's stock in the country. WWF were dominant in Canada at the time while WCW were dominant in the USA.

    At the end of the day Bret had reasonable creative control written into his contract, and the terms of that meant that both Bret and Vince had to be okay with the creative plan. And if Bret was unhappy with a plan, he was well within his rights to say so. You can't write that into a guy's contract and then complain about it afterwards. That's like a film company working with JK Rowling on a Harry Potter movie who give her creative control over the direction of the film script and then start complaining afterwards that she is being very protective of her characters. Well, you agreed to the contract.

    Shawn was out of order to tell Bret that he would never put him over and tbh if I were in Bret's shoes I wouldn't put someone that unprofessional over either, especially in my home country.

    'It is better to walk alone in the right direction than follow the herd walking in the wrong direction.'



  • Registered Users Posts: 39,437 ✭✭✭✭Itssoeasy


    Bret really didn't do anything wrong. Vince McMahon has done a good job over the years spinning the yarn about how he had to get the title off Bret ASAP, almost as if Bret was heading to WCW the very next night. In reality Bret's contract with WWE didn't expire until the end of November so there was ample time to get the belt off Bret. And legally Bret couldn't go to WCW with the title because it had been established in law that the belt was the intellectual property of the company. WCW had already gotten into a lot of trouble over the stunt where Madusa threw the Women's Title in the trash and weren't going to exacerbate the legal situation by having Bret show up with the WWF Title.

    The "time honoured tradition" line from Vince is more BS. As if Vince cared about tradition given that he was the one who exposed to the world that the business was a work! Not to mention the guy he was giving his title to after Bret was the same one who had refused to do the time honoured tradition by "losing his smile" and forefeiting the title.

    The only real criticism you can say of Bret is that he was too invested in being the Canadian superhero and he took it too seriously. But you have to remember too that part of the reason Vince gave the go ahead to do the screwjob in Montreal was to try to hurt Bret's stock in the country. WWF were dominant in Canada at the time while WCW were dominant in the USA.

    At the end of the day Bret had reasonable creative control written into his contract, and the terms of that meant that both Bret and Vince had to be okay with the creative plan. And if Bret was unhappy with a plan, he was well within his rights to say so. You can't write that into a guy's contract and then complain about it afterwards. That's like a film company working with JK Rowling on a Harry Potter movie who give her creative control over the direction of the film script and then start complaining afterwards that she is being very protective of her characters. Well, you agreed to the contract.

    Shawn was out of order to tell Bret that he would never put him over and tbh if I were in Bret's shoes I wouldn't put someone that unprofessional over either, especially in my home country.

    That's true and did Bret not play into Vince's hands by having that opinion ?

    I've watched back the January 4th Raw where Bret and Shawn are in the same ring again for the first time since Montreal and I've watched back the greatest rivalry episode. And I could be wrong but certainly on the greatest rivalries documentary Bret doesn't seem committed to the whole thing.


  • Registered Users Posts: 16,500 ✭✭✭✭DEFTLEFTHAND


    Big emotinal belt mark who forgot where he came from.

    His eldest brother Smith stated before his death that this is what his father Stu told him in the aftermath of Montreal.


    "The Promoter writes the cheques, and if the Promoter wants you to put over your crippled grandmother in two straight falls you say yes sir'.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,977 ✭✭✭HandsomeBob


    To me it was essentially a mess of Vince's own making and snookered himself into needing to take drastic action.

    In regards to Michaels, I just find it ironic that Vince felt it had to be him that Bret dropped the title to, only for Michaels to be finished himself 5 months later (as far as we knew).

    Vince could have done anything really. Use his Wrestlemania 9 finish for example of having someone challenge Bret in the immediate aftermath of beating Michaels for example.

    But Vince knew what he wanted to do; maximum damage to Bret's credibility. Which is fine but it is what it is. In the words of someone who paraphrased Bulldog in the immediate aftermath: he ****ed him.

    That's not to say Bret wasn't a knob himself. He forgot what the business was all about in the hatred he had towards Michaels, and should have been more professional about things. But as I said, there's always a way around things, just none that would have made Bret look like sh1t which was the plan.


  • Registered Users Posts: 838 ✭✭✭A Rogue Hobo


    It was just a case of guys having too much "player power" to use a football term and throwing their egos around. I used to sidr with Bret but I've really done a 180 the last few years having watched interviews and reading his book, he really is just so bitter and comes off as the guy everyone knows, that slags everybody to an incessant degree, but once something is directed at him it's the biggest injustice in the world. I also can't help but feel, your boss asked you to do something and you refused out of stubbornness...why not just do as he asked, then shake hands and leave on amicable terms?


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,433 ✭✭✭showpony1


    From listening to "Something to Wrestle with Bruce Prichard" it seems Vince wanted to give the advertised Shawn Vs Bret match for the title at Survivor Series so that's why they wouldn't change it & belived when it came to the night could convince Bret to lose....Bruce then goes on to say they offered for Bret to lose it at at house show the night before and Bret turned down that & also the idea of a triple threat - So a lot of conflicting things are said on that podcast to make out like the other would not negotiate to find amicable solution (i.e. Bruce said Vince wanted to give the crowd Bret vs Shawn for title as advertised, but then offered he could lose the night before at house show?)

    Also Bret offered to lose it at the December PPV before he went to WCW since he was still under contract/was given permission from Bischoff, but it seems like the urgent need was to have the title off Bret before WCW announced they had signed bret to avoid them gloating over having signed the WWF champion on TV?

    If Bret hadn't of left the idea was for a ladder match between Bret & Shawn around Royal Rumble which would have been great.


  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 14,599 Mod ✭✭✭✭CIARAN_BOYLE


    We don't understand the mindset of the writers/booking comittee of the time. They were only 3 years into have regular weekly tv. This fed into the decision making. Survivor series and all ppvs were a bigger thing before weekly tv.

    For the people who went to house shows (which is where wee made money) the Ppv established the stars. Shawn had to wrestle on that match as champion in order to be the big deal for the next few months. At least that's what the writers were thinking.

    In reality Shawn didn't need to be champion at survivor series as the tv shows could be the big advertisement for the house shows to come but the thinking was really outmoded.

    Also the other big thing is Brett had creative control. He refused to drop the belt a few times before survivor series Vince and co wanted to guarantee the belt would be dropped. If it kept being put off eventually you risk Brett turning around and doing a Ric Flair or a Medusa.

    If Brett lost at a house show you could have a rematch at survivior series for the title very easily.


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